Cold Fear Leaves Me Cold

Blood? Check. Gore? Check. Fun? Nope!

I finally completed Cold Fear this evening and posted a review. Unfortunately my opinion of the game did not improve very much over the last time I posted about it; despite the excellent graphics and fairly solid control mechanics, I found Cold Fear to be almost entirely devoid of fun.

While the game does improve once you move from the ship to the oil rig, its lack of map, horrible save point system, and unpredictable ammo rationing approach pretty much doom the entire experience. Don’t even get me started on the end boss–what a load of crap that section was.

I know a lot of you guys enjoyed this game. What I’d like to know is, why? What did you enjoy about it? I had a really hard time thinking of anything other than the graphics and presentation that I thought was well done.

15 thoughts on “Cold Fear Leaves Me Cold

  1. First of all – HI!!! ^_^
    I’m a big fan of your quest, and I’m already checking the site for some years, but nether commented on it.
    I’m a part of Russian speaking community. We have a topic about your resource and allot of us enjoying it, so… thanx ^_^

    Now, about the game. This one is real tragedy for survival horror industry. Think about how good it could be (concept is really good), so, I agree with you.
    Cheers ^_^

  2. What did I like about it? Reading back on my review that I wrote a while back, I guess I liked it for the unrelenting action and atmosphere. But would I go back and play it again? Doubtful.

    It was a bit like The Thing for me; playing it the first time around I really enjoyed the ‘pass the hours’ entertainment feeling and let the flaws slide, but replaying it a second time, it was hard not to notice some alarming problems that hamper the game.

    Cold Fear is only good if you just sit there for the first half an hour, get used to controls and discover what the developers want from you. Then restarting and playing the game in full, you kind of get more enjoyment out of it. Yeah, I know…games shouldn’t even be made to be like that, but I knew Cold Fear wasn’t exactly breaking the mould here. I gave it a 6/10, but I was definately too generous at the time, 5/10 at best.

    It’s one of those games that only works if you’re quick to adapt with your games. I liked that there was a challenge (though the final boss is AN IRRITATING, FLUKEY MESS!!!) that was not solely down to the controls. It was a genuinely hard game from the off. But if you asked me to name a favourite sequence, I’d be hard pressed to remember one.

    If you don’t expect much from the game, then this doesn’t really dissapoint. It’s just ‘meh’.

    it was something different, the weather effects were nausiatingly fantastic, the sound made it feel like a movie. plus i got into it when i first saw virus which helped the vibe loads.

    whilst not the best the ammos pretty fair and you can run from almost every enemy, i only remember using the shotgun once on the only stealth one i ran into, but the nice touches like valves and other traps, the orca full of exocels and the general story blending the cliche with a bit of hollywood meant like…. well, like if carrier was a bit more resi 4 than, well, than carrier, its a bit to hard for some but i enjoyed it.

  4. I can’t say for sure how much more I might have liked Cold Fear if I had gotten farther into it, but thirty minutes was too much for me. The weather in tandem with the ship was nice, but I couldn’t get behind the controls in general. And I am a bit of a control freak, so I need to be able to change them to my liking. Resident Evil and Silent Hill get away with controls that aren’t perfect to me, but flow smoothly enough that I can handle them by and large. Of what I remember of Cold Fear, the controls themselves felt extremely clunky to me and I especially was not fond of the targeting system.

    Of course, it’s been about a year since I tried it, so I can’t really be sure if that was exactly what irked me, or if at all. I just remember not having fond memories of the game and thinking that I would much rather be playing Carrier again.

  5. first of all, sorry by my very poor english.

    I can’t think of a single moment in the duration of the game that I felt like I was having fun. The game is a chore, from start to finish; it’s like a lifeless husk of a game that, by rights should be really fun, but for some reason I found it awful instead.

    This is something subjective. I feel in the same way, when i play with a lot of other games. them are suppouse to be fun, but at least to me, they arent. for example quake 2, sims, half life, system shock 2, The second half of Resident Evil 4 (when the game converts in a military war simulation), etc… But others find them great games and very fun.

    It’s not the first horror game to take place in these locales: Carrier and Deep Fear covered this territory many years earlier. In fact, there are a lot of parallels between Cold Fear and Carrier: both take place on a ship, both involve research into some alien organism that turns people into zombies, both star a blonde super-soldier character, and both include invisible enemies. I also suspect that both games were intended to get the jump on the next Resident Evil release; Carrier’s developers were probably trying to get their game to market before the vastly superior Resident Evil Code Veronica came out, and Cold Fear looks like it was designed to benefit from Resident Evil 4 pre-release mania. Granted, Carrier is even more of an atrocity than Cold Fear is, but neither game is very good.

    First, the great ideas running out quickly, so the remain way is to repeat or to copy the things that was done before. This for me (subjectivaly) is not bad, if it has innovations over the previous game. In the comparation of carrier and Cold Fear, for me Cold Fear is bastelly superior.

    The second part, the spy in the industry. Sincerously i think that the Cold Fear game begin to develope before to resident evil 4. Perhaps they improved the combat system, when come out the firsts images of resident evil 4. Or Perhaps this was the original objective, and two companies in two very different countries developed two games similar in combat system. I dont think than Darkworks copy the idea to Capcom.

    Cold Fear is a survival horror game that clearly falls in with games like Resident Evil 4 and The Suffering because it pushes action elements and gunplay to the fore. The player has a number of powerful firearms at his disposal, the protagonist is never portrayed as vulnerable, and the game is full of exploding heads and other gore.

    For me Resident Evil 4 is not survival horror. I played Cold Fear a little in normal mode, and finish the PC version in dificult mode. I don’t know if in a game with horror elements, if you rise the difficulty level, it coverts in a survival horror game. In the case of this game. it happens. For me resident evil 4 and Cold Fear in Normal mode is action horror too. Cold Fear in Difficult mode is Survival Horror.

    In Resident Evil 4, except in a few scenes, the progagonist is never in danger, but that is different in Cold Fear. In difficult mode, any enemy can kill you fastly and painfully. The healt packs in the game are few. but the ammo is infinite except in determined moments. I am agree with you that when you win the battle to the original fear, and begin to dominate the game, the things are easier. But it is common in every game, included Silent Hill 3 (hospital in nightmare mode, etc…).

    The problem with Cold Fear is that none of that stuff matters because very quickly flaws in the game design shatter any belief you might have been suspending. The game loses all of its ability to be scary (and later, fun) to a few key game design decisions that, in combination, prove to be deadly sources of frustration. […] Cold Fear doesn’t give the player enough information.

    The fear component in cold fear, for me, not disappear so quickly. There a lot of “intense” moments in the game.

    About the frustation component in a survival horror game. I think that a survival horror is much more difficult than another genere. A premise in every survival horror, is that the protagonist is in a very hostile enviroment, with very weak objects/weapons/actions. So in certain mode for me a survival horror is a challenge. So it has implicit a important frustration component. This components with a appropiate ambient/sound/noise/etc helps to create/transmit fear/respect. A example of this, is the great forbidden siren.

    No map. I spent hours wandering around the ship and oil rig because I often had no clue where the game was asking me to go.

    For me, neither the ship, nor the oil ring are too big. I have played to games in that i have needed to draw a map to know where i was, and where i had to go, because the scenarie was too big. I think that both (the ship, and the oil ring, can be memorized easily).

    By other way, in every moment in the game you have a mission appart from to explore the shio/oil ring completally to discover what is happening there, and later how to escape/survive.

    Save point system. You can’t save at will in Cold Fear, you have to wait until the game prompts you with the option. Anticipating the next save prompt is difficult; sometimes you’ll be asked to save about two minutes after the last save, and other times you’ll progress for hours before reaching another save spot. Of course, there are no checkpoints either, so if you die you have no choice but to reload the save.

    For me, a limited save system help to create tension and fear. In the Cold Fear case, i agree with you that the game has two of this points very distant from the previous.

    Unpredictable ammo and health rationing. Some enemies drop ammo, others do not. Enemy bodies fade away after a few seconds, so even if they had ammo to give you, you will miss it if you don’t get to them quickly enough. Since you can’t store items for later use, this makes pacing yourself very difficult.

    The ammo in this game is practically infinite, so it is not a problem. the very limited health packs, for me is not a problem in this game. if you are low of health you examine a little bodies or a dead enemies and surely you life go up. Or use one of the health packs. in normal mode in the ship, (PC Version) i think that there are too many health packs.

    Extremely difficult aiming system. It seems that this game was built for a mouse rather than an analog stick. Aiming in Cold Fear is harder than in any other game I’ve played, especially when you are on the boat. It does get a lot easier when you reach the oil rig, but there’s still no aim assistance and the control is twitchy enough to make the requisite head shots harder than they should be.

    I havent play this game in a console. so i agree with you. Said that i think too that a manual aim mode helps to create fear and tension.

    The really killer problem is the save system, because unlike most other games, you can’t anticipate save locations or manage your character’s health and ammo before you save.

    For me Cold Fear is similar to forbidden siren. Each part between two save point is a scenarie. is a different challenge. more o less difficult but with a lot of surprises. By another way a soldier in a war, in every time has to be alert, has to be prepared to battle. If the soldier is not prepared, he has to return to campament and to supply himself. Go in a weak state to battle is a suicide. If the situation in a game is too desesperated perhaps the best solution is to begin from the previous and secure save point.

    Case in point: when you reach the end boss, your forced to fight him with whatever ammo and health you happened to have at the last save; you can’t go back, there are no health items in the boss area, and, if you are like me and got there with less than 50% of your normal life, the boss fight is frustratingly difficult (as an aside, it’s also a terribly designed boss fight for other reasons–ugh!).

    For me the first part of the fight with the final boss is very original. It is not the tipic fight of the most games, apply the same pattern and shot’en until they die. In this, the low munition, obligate you to
    try different things, plan a way to take more ammo, different ways to escape to the fatal attacks of the monster, etc. it this (for me) a inteligent a challenge fight not another bored pattern fight.

    The second part of this fight is another bored pattern fight.

    So you run around looking for some room you can’t find because there is no map

    You have to investigate, explore the scenarie, recognize the territory.

    and along the way you encounter a lot of zombies, which you have a tough time killing thanks to the terrible aiming system. When you finally get to where you are supposed to go, your health and ammo are depleted. The game asks if you’d like to save, and you have to hesitate. On the one hand, you just played for an hour and don’t want to do all that crap again. But on the other hand, if you save now in your weakened state, the next section could be close to impossible.

    Maybe in the console version, the great and main problem of the high frustation was the manual and slow aim system. If it is too slow it can ruin completally a game. Although the rest of the game was near of perfection.

    There’s no indication if the room you will end up in post-save is an item-rich treasure trove or a huge boss fight, and since you can’t carry items around for later use, you pretty much have no option but to press forward with however little resources you may have.

    it ocuors in every survival horror game. in the last levels, the next door can be a mortal trap.
    In this game it ocours all the time. it helps to elevate the fear factor.

    The moment-to-moment game play in Cold Fear isn’t very challenging (other than the aiming, which just feels broken), but there were several times that I almost gave up on the game due to frustration; it doesn’t matter how good a player you are, the game simply will not allow you to kill zombies if you run out of ammo.

    i agree with you. only a observation. This problem is only present in the console version of the game. the PC version hasn’t this problem.

    But the exocel monsters (basically the bugs from Extermination) are quite lame.

    In normal mode the exocel are inoffensive, but in hard mode they are very dangerous. One can kill you in less than two seconds.

    the characters that matter (like the protagonist) are completely underdeveloped. It’s pretty much generic macho guy shooting zombies so he can save generic hottie that he has generically fallen for after exchanging 30 seconds of dialog.

    i agree with you again, but if the formula continues working, and it give good results why change it, and elevate the risk of made the game, trying to invent/create a emotionally or more dramatic background history to the protagonists, and involve to the player in it? Example FFVII or FFVIII. Few survival horror game explore it. Because This is not the main theme of the game. For me The creators of Cold Fear didn’t want to make a great game, only a good game, with very intense situations and very good graphics. So the protagonist background history only delayed the release rate in a complex and capricious market

    It’s just that playing the damn thing isn’t fun because a couple of key decisions suck you right out of the experience and destroy any sense of enjoyment.

    in PC version i didn’t have those problems. For me it was a very intense experience, with a great horror ambient. It was very challenge and fun. i finished the pc version in difficult mode twice. This game is one of my prefers survival horror games.

  6. Chris said,
    Don’t even get me started on the end boss–what a load of crap that section was.

    I told you you’d love the boss fight!

    I hated it because I couldn’t beat the guy. But you managed to beat him? Maybe you could share that on the board, how you beat him?

    If I recall correctly, part of it involved having to mash a certain combination of buttons all at once to pull off some move, but I was never able to do that move even earlier in the game on the spider-like monster dealies.

    I’m so-so with Cold Fear. Not horrible, not the greatest. I would consider replaying it, only I could never beat the final boss.

  7. >Spooky

    Yeah, it’s a terrible boss fight.. You need to first figure out how to distract the boss from killing Olga or Elsa or whatever her name is; you have about 2 seconds to find a weapon and hope that it is loaded before he’ll catch her. I used the spear gun first, then the AK. The hard part about this first stage is avoiding the boss consistently as he charges you, because he can change his direction mid-charge. I ended up doing it by running straight at him and then veering left at the last minute. This works, but it took me many, many tries to complete the fight because I started it with very little health.

    In the second stage you have to wait for him to grab you, then do the button combination to shoot him in the face. The combination is, on PS2 anyway, pound Circle and then hit R1. It’s tricky because you actually need to be hitting Circle before the UI element telling you to do so comes up; I started smashing it right as he grabbed me. You also have to hit R1 before the bar actually fills up; if you wait for the icon to show up then it is already too late. If you do it right you’ll shoot the boss in the face, and if you can do that three times you’ll win.

    Of course, the second stage sucks because you can’t tell the difference between the regular charge and stomp attacks (which you want to avoid) and the grab attack (which you don’t want to avoid). So you’ll get hit a lot just waiting for him to grab you–again, sucky if you have no health.

    And then you will finish the game, watch everything blow up, and wonder what ever happened to the plot detail that involved the protagonist himself getting infected with an exocel. Oops, guess they forgot about that part of the story. Oh well.

  8. hey chris, correct me if im wrong but wasnt this on the xbox and pc first?, if the so the ps2 versions a later port so it might suffer a little, for the final boss i vaguely remember planting bombs and using the code thing but its been like 2 or 3 years now.

  9. What? None of you guys enjoyed the last boss?

    None of you enjoyed the limited amount of time to figure out how to fight the boss before he killed the girl?!

    Or that when you actually fought him, you had to be so flawless that you couldn’t get hit otherwise you died?

    Or that when you did die, you had to restart the entire section again?!

    Or that it was impossible to detect what move he’d use despite his animations saying otherwise?

    Or the fact it took you 50 attempts and several cutscenes skip?!

    And in the end you’d win by a fluke button press?!

    OH I REALLY DID LOVE IT. Hmmm…sarcasm really doesn’t work typed up, does it.

  10. Thanks for the tips, Chris. If I’m ever in the mood to try Cold Fear again, I’ll try your strategy.

    Townsend: heck no, I didn’t enjoy that last boss fight, LOL.

    What really ticked me off is that although I got to the point where I could distract Dumbo while the girl planted her bombs – which in and of itself took me some time to figure out and accomplish – I couldn’t master the button combo required for the second stage.

    So I get past one really hard part and my reward? Get killed only because I can’t do the necessary button-kung-foo.

    If anything, I think the game makers should’ve designed it so that when if you get killed at part 2, you get to start right before part 2, rather than having poor saps like me have to re-play part 1 all over again.

  11. I’m beginning to understand that Chris is really not as die-hard a survival horror fan as one would expect, having a website and all.

    Chris, I have yet to see you enjoy a horror game that is not critically acclaimed or at least known by hardcores as fantastic. Have you no love for the horror genre as a whole?

    Horror Games in general are not always that great, but it is for the horror game fans that can really appreciate them. It is the “feeling” not so much the gameplay, graphics or what have you.

    Reading your ideas of Rule of Rose is disgusting. That game was an inventive work of art. Crappy gameplay, sure. Boring, repetitive, I guess…but who is asking? If you are a horror game fiend you understand it is about “feel”.

    You need to check into your inner horror gamer and see if he can’t love almost every horror game of the last decade, because they have all been great from a die-hards perspective. I can only pick maybe two or three that were lacking.

  12. >Brian

    There’s a difference between a fan and a fanboy. A fan can be a connoisseur, a person who is familiar with an entire spectrum of work; in order to really appreciate the best of the spectrum, the connoisseur must familiarize himself with the worst work as well; he doesn’t have to like it, of course, but it’s important to his understanding of the medium as a whole,

    A fanboy, on the other hand, just picks a topic and decides to defend it to death. There’s no critical thinking involved, just some sort of internal self-alignment with an arbitrary collection of work. The fanboy has no sense of good quality or bad quality because quality itself is irrelevant; they have decided to devote themselves to a specific group of titles and a few bad apples is not about to sway their conviction. In that sense, fanboys are blind to quality.

    I’d like to one of these types of fans and not the other. Hint: I’d prefer to be the former.

  13. Well, Chris, while I respect your critical approach, I think you are missing something here. There is the fan, the fanboy, and something else. There is one who understands that what you are doing is, say “too serious to be taken seriously”.

    I just do not get the sense that you have strong a liking for nostalgic feelings and say, a more spiritual attitude to gaming. What makes a great musician is spiritual outlook, not technicality. Your reviews are purely technical, there is no sense that “Chris” is a true survival horror fiend, with a love for the genre and a real respect for the artistry and design of the games.

    Hence, your Rule of Rose review always baffled me. As does the fact that games like Resident Evil 2 or Silent Hill do not warrant perfect scores from you.

    Again, I respect your approach, but I am inviting you to see things differently for a change. Less critical, more spiritual.

  14. > Brian

    As is stated all throughout this site, my goal is to learn why the good horror games are so much fun and why the bad ones are “oh so bad.” I’m a game developer, this is a research blog. I’m interested in specific traits of horror games that make them successful. I play a lot of other kinds of games as well, but this site is devoted to research about the construction of horror games.

    Rule of Rose is, by any measure, a terrible game. It has beautiful art, a really nice sound track, and an interesting plot. It would have made a great film, but as a game it’s an atrocity. It fails to meet the basic requirement of all video games: that human interaction with the software is enjoyable. It’s a great example of how not to make a game (so much quality content destroyed by something that has been done well so many times before), and therefore an excellent addition to my research.

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